Board Chairs Write In: What are your reflections on Leena Barakat’s first year as President & CEO?

Much has happened in the year since Leena Barakat stepped into the role of President & CEO. We have been engaged in a rigorous strategic planning process with many moments of connection and inspiration while continuing our commitment to move millions to movements for justice. WDN Action Board Chair Quinn Delaney and WDN Board Chair Maggie Kulyk share their thoughts on this past transition year and what’s to come.

Quinn Delaney, WDN Action Board Chair (left), Maggie Kulyk, WDN Board Chair (right)

What are your reflections on Leena’s first year leading WDN & WDN Action?

Quinn: I have been impressed with how Leena has jumped into her role as CEO of WDN & WDN Action. She is a sure-footed leader, knowing when to step forward, knowing when to listen. Maybe not so obvious to the membership, Leena has spent a lot of time assessing our capacities, staffing, funding, skill sets, and the relationship between WDN and WDN Action. She has been very astute in her assessments and solutions to make us a more effective, impactful organization.

What was something that surprised you about our work together this past year?

Maggie: I think the thing that surprised me the most was how quickly Leena was able to really LEAD. I knew that Leena was a capable, compassionate leader when we hired her, but I have been astonished and impressed by her clarity and the level of detail and intensity with which she works. She is thoughtful, thorough, engaging, and frankly, brilliant in her ability to combine both visionary leadership with tactical savvy. I can only say that this post-search transition has been amazing and I am grateful every day that she is our CEO.

We have 4 months left in 2023. What’s coming up that you’re most looking forward to?

Quinn: I am looking forward to launching our new strategic plan. A lot has changed since our last one, both internally within our network and externally – socially, politically, and every other way. With our new leadership and dynamic membership, I believe we are poised to build on our success and excel in our quest for a more equitable and just world.

Maggie: I’m very excited to share the results of our strategic planning process, our collective vision, with our members, our grantee partners, and the whole progressive donor ecosystem. It is definitely WDN and WDN Action’s time to shine, and given all that is happening in our world, it is absolutely vital that we do. And, of course, I’m very excited to see everyone in Charlotte at the conference. It will be an amazing event and a great time to reconnect with our wonderful community.

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